Buying in 2018? 7 Steps to Take Now

With some careful prep work in the next few months, your family could be in a new home by summer.

Now is the time to get things in order for a home search next year.

If you’re thinking about buying a home in 2018, November and December are the perfect time to “warm up” for the house hunt so you can hit the ground running in the new year. And whether you’re looking in Athens, GA, or Athens, NY, the prep work is relatively the same.

We’ve asked real estate and mortgage professionals to chime in about what prospective homebuyers should do to ready themselves for buying a home. From organizing your finances to save money to finding a real estate agent and mortgage lender, there is plenty to keep you busy!

7 Steps to Be Ready to Buy a House in 2018

  1. 1. Check your credit score.

    A credit score is a numerical representation of your credit report. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, and the higher your score, the better. “Good credit is like gold when obtaining a mortgage,” says Denise Supplee, a Pennsylvania agent. Typically, you’ll get the best interest rate on a loan if your score is 740 and above. “A higher credit score should net you a lower mortgage rate,” says Lee Gimpel, co-creator of The Good Credit Game, which specializes in financial education. “That lower rate, even if it’s only 1 or 2 percent lower, can mean saving thousands of dollars per year.” If your credit score falls short, get busy repairing it. Correct any errors that might be on your report, start paying all your bills on time, and get your credit limit raised. Note, though, that you shouldn’t max out your card each month. It’s best to use 30 percent or less of your total available credit.

  2. 2. Don’t open new credit cards.

    If you think resisting taking a selfie when you’re face-to-face with your fave celebrity is a testament to your willpower, that’s sissy stuff compared with turning down every offer to open a credit card, even if you could save 20 percent (or more!) on your holiday purchases. Tempting as saving at checkout can be, opening new credit may hurt your chances of getting a mortgage, or at least of getting the best rate on a loan.

    “By opening the account, you have created another line of credit,” says Paul Anastos, president of Mortgage Master, a division of loanDepot, a nonbank lender. “That credit line, and what is borrowed, can change the application numbers and jeopardize the application.” What could save you a few dollars now could cost you far more in the long run if your mortgage payments will be higher. And along those same lines, “Don’t overspend during the holiday season,” says Dean Sioukas founder of Magilla Loans, an online lending exchange. “Especially on impulse purchases that can be tempting during the holidays.”

  3. 3. Suggest financial gifts for the holidays.

    Besides the mortgage loan, you’ll need a sizable amount of cash to buy a house. There’s the down payment to consider, closing costs, and moving costs. You should also set aside money for unexpected repairs and costs, says Brian Betzler, regional sales manager at TD Bank. Not being prepared “is probably why nearly half of millennials incurred up to $5,000 in unexpected costs during the mortgage process, according to a TD survey,” he says.

    A potential solution? Bulk up that emergency fund. “Instead of getting gifts for the holidays, [prospective homebuyers] can suggest cash instead that will be put toward their home,” says Paul Sian, a Kentucky and Ohio agent. And remember, you might be getting some money back after you file your tax return. Don’t blow it on vacation. “A tax refund is a great way to add to your cash reserves for a down payment,” says David Hosterman, branch manager of Castle & Cooke Mortgage in Colorado.

  4. 4. Interview potential real estate agents.

    If your neighbor, relative, or friend of a friend happens to know (or is) a real estate agent, that’s great. This person might be the perfect agent for you. But you owe it to yourself to shop around. “Look for [an agent] who is knowledgeable, good, integral, and can assist you in reaching the goal of homeownership,” says Chantay Bridges, a Los Angeles, CA, real estate agent. “Make sure they are not a novice, new, or just unaware of how to do a specific transaction.” The end of the year is usually a slow time for agents, so chances are they’ll be more accommodating to making an appointment on your schedule.

  5. 5. Keep tabs on interest rates.

    If you hear that interest rates are at historic lows or that interest rates are on the rise, you should not assume that you can get the rock-bottom rate. Not everyone gets the same interest rate on a mortgage loan. It depends on your financial picture and on the lender you choose. “Everyone knows that home prices are, at least to some extent, negotiable, but we find loans to be the same,” says Warren Ward, CFP with WWA Planning & Investments in Indiana. He advises that homebuyers shop around for the lowest interest rates. Note that closing costs can vary too, so discuss with your real estate agent ways to keep yours down. “We saved $150 on the closing fees by selecting the cheapest title company,” says Ward. “I guess that’s not much, but I think most people would bend over to pick up three $50 bills if they were lying on the sidewalk.”

  6. 6. Find a mortgage lender.

    Before you even start looking for a home (and yes, we even mean browsing online listings), look for a mortgage lender to find out if you can afford to buy a home. If you can’t right now, there’s no use torturing yourself by finding your dream home that’s just out of reach. But how do you find a lender? “If you have a bank you’ve been with for years, ask them,” says Bridges. “Your [real estate agent] can also refer a good lender to you. Compare [that lender] with two others. Look at what they offer, costs, points, and how long to close.” Once you know how much home you can afford, perform your home search based on your preapproval amount or less.

  7. 7. Get preapproved.

    When a lender gives your financials the once-over and preapproves you for a mortgage, you’ll be able to show sellers that you really can buy their house. But how do you get preapproved? By preparing a few documents, which you can do several months in advance of the actual purchase. Here’s what you need to buy a house.

    • Tax returns for the past two years
    • W-2 forms for the past two years
    • Paycheck stubs from the past few months
    • Proof of mortgage or rent payments for the past year
    • A list of all your debts, including credit cards, student loans, auto loans, and alimony
    • A list of all your assets, including bank statements, auto titles, real estate, and any investment accounts

    Paul Anastos also advises not to change jobs, make big purchases, or miss any debt payments as you prepare to get a mortgage.

    Originally published October 17, 2016. Updated October 30, 2017. 

    Published by Laura Agadoni on Trulia

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A Housing Bubble? Industry Experts Say NO!

Housing

With residential home prices continuing to appreciate at levels above historic norms, some are questioning if we are heading toward another housing bubble (and subsequent burst) like the one we experienced in 2006-2008.

Recently, five housing experts weighed in on the question.

Rick Sharga, Executive VP at Ten-X:

“We’re definitely not in a bubble.”

“We have a handful of markets that are frothy and probably have hit an affordability wall of sorts but…while prices nominally have surpassed the 2006 peak, we’re not talking about 2006 dollars.”

Christopher Thornberg, Partner at Beacon Economics:

“There is no direct or indirect sign of any kind of bubble.”

“Steady as she goes. Prices continue to rise. Sales roughly flat.…Overall this market is in an almost boring place.”

Bill McBride, Calculated Risk:

“I wouldn’t call house prices a bubble.”

“So prices may be a little overvalued, but there is little speculation and I don’t expect house prices to decline nationally like during the bust.”

David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices:

“Housing is not repeating the bubble period of 2000-2006.”

“…price increases vary unlike the earlier period when rising prices were almost universal; the number of homes sold annually is 20% less today than in the earlier period and the months’ supply is declining, not surging.”

Bing Bai & Edward Golding, Urban Institute:

“We are not in a bubble and nowhere near the situation preceding the 2008 housing crisis.”

“Despite recent increases, house prices remain affordable by historical standards, suggesting that home prices are tracking a broader economic expansion.”

Posted by The KCM Crew

Homeowners: Do You Know Your Home’s Value?

Home Value

The latest edition of CoreLogic’s Home Price Index shows that nationally, home prices have appreciated 6.7% over the last year and 0.9% month-over-month. The release of the report included this headline,

“National Home Prices Now 50% Above March 2011 Bottom”

The real estate market has come a long way since 2011, which is great news for homeowners!

Nearly 79% of homeowners with a mortgage in the US now have significant equity in their homes (defined as over 20%), according to the latest Equity Report. The challenge is that not every homeowner knows how much their home’s value has appreciated.

Homeowners in Denver, CO lead the way with 8.7% appreciation over the last year, while owners in Washington and Utah have experienced a 3% increase in values since the start of this year!

Nationally, CoreLogic forecasts that home values will increase another 5.0% by this time next year.

Bill Banfield, VP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans, recently explained the importance of knowing the conditions in your area,

“With home values constantly changing, and the rates of change varying across the country, this is one more way to show how important it is for homeowners to stay aware of their local housing market.”

Bottom Line

Do you know what your house is worth? Have you stayed put because you are nervous you won’t have enough equity to buy your dream home? Let’s get together to perform an equity analysis and give you the freedom to achieve your dreams.

 

Click HERE to find out how much your home is worth today!

10 Waterfront Homes Under $300,000

From quaint beach cottages to lake houses with views from every room, these homes are appealing and affordable.

Finding a budget-friendly house on the water might be easier than you think. We found listings across the country that are easy on the eye and the wallet.

Whether you’re ready to land a waterfront home or just daydream, check out these 10 homes under $300,000.

Tahoe Vista, CA

6750 N Lake Blvd #10F, Tahoe Vista, CA

For sale: $225,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Overlooking gorgeous Lake Tahoe, this 3-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom lakefront home is available for shared ownership, giving you 6 weeks here per year. In addition to a lakefront pool, fire pit and BBQ, the Tonopalo community offers access to a luxurious spa, workout facility, sandy beach, sail boats, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and more.

See more Tahoe Vista homes for sale.

Myrtle Beach, SC

813 Golden Willow Ct, Myrtle Beach, SC
For sale: $224,500

Photo from Zillow listing.

Perfect for family fun in the sun, this spacious lakefront home has top-rated schools nearby, according to GreatSchools.org. The 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom interior includes an office and dining room, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and a breakfast nook overlooking the lake.

See more homes for sale in Myrtle Beach.

Bellingham, WA

0 Eliza Island LOT 65, Bellingham, WA
For sale: $267,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Located on Eliza Island in breathtaking Bellingham Bay, this high-bank waterfront home has sweeping mountain, sound and bay views. Custom built with an open floor plan, vaulted ceilings, a large loft and spiral stairway, this home is stunning inside and out.

See more Bellingham homes for sale.

Darlington, MD

4400 Bryce Ln #273118, Darlington, MD
For sale: $198,450

Photo from Zillow listing.

Perched atop Broad Creek, this 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom home brings posh style to a rustic retreat. In addition to having waterfront dock access, the house includes a master suite, spacious front and back decks, and a family room perfect for entertaining.

See more Darlington homes for sale.

Sodus, NY

5537 Centenary Shrs, Sodus, NY
For sale: $157,500

Photo from Zillow listing.

Overlooking serene Lake Ontario, this 528-square-foot cottage has a spacious deck and beachfront perfect for paddling out with kayaks. The interior features an oak kitchen, fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the water.

See more listings in Sodus.

Saint Germain, WI

1583 Pine Valley Rd, St. Germain, WI
For sale: $129,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

This 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom lakefront cabin offers access to all that Little Saint Germain Lake has to offer, including 13 miles of shoreline and numerous bays and islands to explore. The property spans 8 acres with a fire pit, playground and recreation room.

See more homes for sale in Saint Germain.

Golden, MO

25391 Farm Road 2265, Golden, MO
For sale: $188,950

Photo from Zillow listing.

Situated on half an acre, this newly remodeled lakefront home has plenty of indoor and outdoor space to entertain. In addition to nicely landscaped grounds and multiple decks, its interior has vaulted pine ceilings and a modern kitchen.

See more homes for sale in Golden.

Rockwood, TN

272 Pin Oak Dr, Rockwood, TN
For sale: $275,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Boasting panoramic views of Watts Bar Lake, this 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom property has abundant outdoor space to enjoy the scenery, including three decks with hammocks and a hot tub. Every bedroom and living area overlooks the lakefront, which is outfitted with a large covered dock and electric boat lift.

See more homes for sale in Rockwood.

Reed City, MI

9011 Lake Dr, Reed City, MI
For sale: $155,000

Photo from Zillow listing

Sporting a private sandy beach on beautiful Todd Lake, this 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom home has been updated with granite countertops and a custom wrap-around deck with sweeping lake views. Close to fishing, trails and other lakes, this home is ideal for an outdoor enthusiast.

See more listings in Reed City.

Bay Saint Louis, MS

10250 Bayou View Dr E, Bay Saint Louis, MS
For sale: $159,900

Photo from Zillow listing.

Built on an acre of land, this 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom tiny home packs a lot outside its small frame. With 200 feet of Breaths Bayou waterfront, this home is outfitted with a powered boat launch and RV pad. It’s surrounded by mature trees, including queen palms, oak and cedar.

See more listings in Bay Saint Louis.

Lead photo from Zillow listing.

 

Posted by Sharona Ott on Zillow

 

10 Tips on Keeping Your Home Smelling Fresh

Have you ever walked in your home and something was just out of whack?  A stench takes your breath away when you walk into a room. You know what we are talking about … your home just stinks! Keeping your home smelling fresh can be simple with a few tips.

Flowers

Open Your Windows

That’s right, start by opening your windows to let the fresh air in. A good cleaning out of the house with fresh air is the perfect step to removing odors.

Add Fresh Flowers

If you do not have allergies and do have a few extra dollars, practice what some European countries practice. Get yourself some fresh flowers. Fresh flowers can brighten up a room but they also make a room smell so beautiful. Choose your favorite scented flower and keep in your favorite room. Lilacs and roses are great flowers that have vibrant scents.

Change Your Air Filters

Fresh air starts with the air flowing through your ventilation system. To have clean air and to keep your home healthy, remember to regularly change your air filters. Depending on the type of air filters you have, you will change them every 2 – 6 months. We recommend changing them at least four times in the year.

Add Scented Fragrances

Adding candles or plug ins or some other scented item to your home can step up and remove the stink from your abode. There are so many scented items to make your home smell good. Try using oils and reeds. Even natural fragrances like gently simmering herbs and cinnamon on stovetop with some water can make a home smell homey.

Clean Your Trash Cans

We quickly throw out trash and use bags to store it, thinking that these bags can protect the cans they cover. But our cans carry odors from our coffee grounds, left over foods, boxes and containers from yogurt and milk. These items carry odors that stay with the trash cans. Take the time and wash out the trash cans regularly, and practice using baking soda in your bags to limit the odors.

Run a Cleaning Solution in Your Garbage Disposals

Garbage disposals naturally crush food to allow the flow of water in your sinks. But food creates odors. And therefore, your sinks can smell like a trash can. Using a disposal cleaner that you buy in the store is simple to run in your garbage disposal. Also using some white vinegar or ¼ of a whole lemon to clean the disposal is a good thing. To sharpen the disposal blades, add a few ice cubes to the disposal and run the disposal.

Clean your Washer

Fine smelling clothes can smell good on our bodies and in our closets. But foul, musty, and mildew scents can exist if you have a washing machine that has not been cleaned. Simply running some vinegar in a washing cycle without any clothes can clean any odors from the washer that can cause mildew like scents.

Run a solution through Your Dishwasher

Dishwashers are another area of the homes that have lingering odors from caked on food and dirty dishes. You can buy specific dishwasher cleaners from your store and run per the directions. Or like with the washing machine, use vinegar in the dishwasher to run a full empty cycle. Once you have run the cycle, you will have a fresh clean smelling dishwasher ready to take on any grime.

Clean Your Microwave

Like dishwashers, microwaves can carry ongoing smells from food. Food can also splatter on the walls of the microwave. So time to wipe down the inside of the microwave. Using a bowl of 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar, place it in the microwave. Turn the microwave on high for 4 – 6 minutes. Remove the bowl and wipe down the inside of the oven. Now a fresh smelling microwave.

Give your Pets a Bath

We love our pets and they are family. But our pets have fur and dander and pets do not take showers and baths regularly like we do. They go outside in the rain and sun to play in the grass. All fun things for our pets, but our pets then come in our homes and our homes can smell like a wet dog. Giving our pets baths regularly and brushing their fur will help keep our homes fresh and clean.

 

Posted on HomeZada

3 Home Upgrade Options for a $3,000 Budget

Get more impact from your next home improvement project with one of these ideas, each with a $3,000 price tag.

The top priority for most buyers when house hunting is function. While charm and character go a long way, they can’t overcome a bad layout, lack of storage, or a poor use of materials.

To really love the home you’re in and increase potential buyers’ interest, choose updates that will make living in your home easier.

For the small renovation budget of $3,000, you could complete any one of the projects below to boost the appeal, functionality and value of your home.

Add a covered entry

Many homes, especially older ones, don’t have a covered front door. Adding cover will not only greatly increase the curb appeal of your home, but also make your life easier. Say goodbye to fumbling for your keys in the rain with an armful of groceries.

A covered entry also offers guests a warm welcome, providing shelter while they wait at the door.

Upgrade1

Create an open floor plan

Much new home construction today makes use of an open floor plan. A home where one room flows into the next is convenient for everyday family life, and is also a huge advantage when entertaining guests.

Upgrade2

Creating an open floor plan in your home may be as simple as removing a wall. For a small investment, you can hire a contractor to take down a wall, creating a larger, more open space.

Homes with open floor plans often feel larger, which is a great selling point.

Upgrade to natural stone countertops

Whether you’re loving your home or selling it, one place upgrades have a major impact is the kitchen. Upgrading standard countertops can do wonders for the style of your kitchen, and also make the room more functional.

Upgrade3

Natural stone countertops like granite are among the most durable on the market. Heavily resistant to scratches and high temperatures, they can stand up to anything you can cook up.

You can’t go wrong with any of these affordable updates. Each will make your home work better for your needs, and will be selling points for any future buyers.

 

Posted by Lindsay Jackman on Zillow

Buying this Spring? Be Prepared for Bidding Wars

Traditionally, spring is the busiest season for real estate. Buyers come out in force and homeowners list their houses for sale hoping to capitalize on buyer activity. This year will be no different!

Buyers have already been out in force looking for their dream homes and more are on their way, but the challenge is that the inventory of homes for sale has not kept up with demand, which has lead to A LOT of competition for the homes that are available.

A recent Bloomberg article touched on the current market conditions:

“It’s the 2017 U.S. spring home-selling season, and listings are scarcer than they’ve ever been. Bidding wars common in perennially hot markets like the San Francisco Bay area, Denver and Boston are now also prevalent in the once slow-and-steady heartland, sending prices higher and sparking desperation among buyers across the country.”

Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic went on to explain why buyers are flocking to the market in big numbers:

“In today’s market, many buyers think the trough in [interest] rates is over. If you don’t get in now, it’s just going to be worse later. Rates will be higher, prices will be higher, and maybe inventory selection will be lower.”

In some markets, “thirty-five percent of properties are selling within the first week or two of hitting the market.” Homes are selling at a rapid clip in places like:

  • Denver, CO
  • Seattle, WA
  • Oakland, CA
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Boise, ID
  • Madison, WI
  • Omaha, NE

Bottom Line

In today’s competitive atmosphere, you need a professional on your side who knows your exact market conditions and can help you take the steps you need to be able to secure your new home!

 

Posted by The KCM Crew